Hostile Terrain 94 Art

up close image of Hostile Terrain 94 toe tags overlapping each other on wall

Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94) is a participatory art project sponsored and organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art-education-media collective, directed by anthropologist Jason De León. The exhibition is composed of ~3,200 handwritten toe tags that represent migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. These tags are geolocated on a wall map of the desert showing the exact locations where remains were found.

Map of US Mexico border with toe tags for every migrant found dead in the Sonoran desert

The Arcus Center is one of 150 global sites installing the Hostile Terrain 94 exhibit. Our main purpose in hosting this installation is to participate in the global memorializing of the thousands who have died at the US/Mexico border as a direct result of the US Border Patrol policy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence” (PTD). Through the process of honoring each person represented in the project we also raise awareness of the realities of the US/Mexico border and the need for more humane immigration and refugee policies.


The Two Ways To Get Involved with the ACSJL HT94 Installation

1. Fill Out Toe Tags


The most powerful element of this project is the participatory aspect with the installation partner’s community and network. This project involves the time and intention required of volunteers to meticulously fill out the 3,200 individual toe tags that represent each person who has died.  After all are complete, each tag filled out by our volunteers will be applied to the map as the central part of the installation. We ask for your help in filling out the tags, and to play an active part in raising awareness around this issue.

two people leaning closely over a table while filling out toe tags for the HT94 project

Use button below to participate by yourself or with a group at home during COVID-19.


2. Share Your Story With Us

a hand reaching out to hold a filled out toe tag on the HT94 Wall

The artist Nayda Collazo-Llorens is designing a text based installation to complement the HT94 map of toe tags for our large art wall in the building. We would like to offer you the opportunity to share experiences of crossing the border.  It may be your own crossing or that of a loved one.  Our goal is to take words and phrases from your stories and include them in an art installation complementing the Hostile Terrain 94 installation at the ACSJL.  This will be an abstracted version of the stories that memorializes those who have died while crossing the desert and lifts up the lives of all that have been impacted by this perilous journey. All stories will remain anonymous and you have the option of sharing a written story or uploading a video or audio format of your story.

Use the button below to share your story with us.


Learn More about HT94 and Undocumented Migration Project

The Undocumented Migration Project (UMP) is a long-term anthropological study of clandestine movement between Latin America and the United States that uses ethnography, archaeology, visual anthropology, and forensic science to understand this violent social process and raise awareness through research, education, and public outreach.